Friday, January 8, 2010

A belated Christmas story

My nuclear family, niece, nephew, and I are all lounging in my parents' living room on Christmas evening like a well-fed, lazy pack of dogs. I pluck a small ornament off the tree that my younger brother, Chris, had carefully constructed when he was in first grade. The simple decoration consists of a hard plastic, red, peanut butter jar lid with a school picture of Chris, which he had cut into the shape of an oval and pasted on the interior. Sparkles decorate the outside and a loop of red yarn extends from the top.

I bring the ornament to Chris' son, Tyler, who is about five years old and is reclining on the couch with a video game in his hands. Dangling the ornament near his face, I ask him, "Who is this?"

Tyler pauses a moment, draws the ornament closer for a more thorough inspection, crinkles his brow, hesitates again, then proclaims, "ME!" grinning from ear-to-ear triumphantly.

"Nope," I tell him, "that is your daddy."

"Really?"

"Yes."

I walk into the kitchen and show Tyler's dad, my brother, the same ornament and relay the story. "Really?" says Chris.

"Yes," I say.

Chris smiles thoughtfully to himself and turns back to cleaning his dish in the sink. I return the ornament to its home on the tree and plop down on the couch, with several generations of my family members surrounding me.

Let the new year begin.

Om shanti.